Retailers are making progress in making it easy for customers to shop how they want to shop, especially on mobile devices, according to the first edition of a research report that benchmarks store and web retailers’ progress at implementing omnichannel functionality.

The Omnichannel Retail Index report from the National Retail Federation trade group and retail consultancy FitforCommerce mystery-shopped 120 retailers’ stores, web and mobile channels in July to assess if retailers are delivering on their omnichannel promises and found areas where retailers are consistently good and others that need more work.

On the plus side, 95% of the retailers studied optimize their sites for viewing on mobile devices. On the negative side, only 54% send consumers email messages that are optimized for reading on mobile devices. The report warns retailers that do not soon optimize email for mobile will face higher delete and unsubscribe rates. While the majority of shoppers these days have smartphones in their pockets, more retailers need to start making Wi-Fi available to in-store shoppers. The report finds only 26% offer the perk to shoppers.

Half of the 100 retailers studied that operate stores show web shoppers on desktop computers live product availability in stores, and 49% offer this same capability to smartphone and tablet shoppers. Overall, only 28% of these retailers currently enable consumers to order those items online for in-store pickup. More stores offered consumers the ability to return goods purchased online to retail stores, 70%. (Twenty of the retailers studied only sell online.)

Once consumers do visit a store, just fewer than half, 46%, have in-store signage or messaging that tout omnichannel options.  

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It does appear, however, that the omnichannel objective is reaching front-line employees. 70% of associates at retail stores offered to search for an item online or at another store when it was not in stock at their store location, and 77% of stores studied offered customers the ability to place orders and pay for them in store and have orders shipped to their homes.

The NRF says it will repeat the study in January to track the progress retailers are making at implementing omnichannel capabilities.

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